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Friday, April 30, 2010

Walker ties big rate hike to CC Cragin water




By Matt Brabb
Connection Editor

Town of Payson water guru Buzz Walker took on the unenviable task of explaining the necessity of a 20 percent hike in water rates for Payson residents at last week's Citizens Awareness Committee (CAC) meeting.

“This has been a long term plan since 2006,” he explained to CAC members. “We have tarried for four years.”

Walker was asked why the town needs the additional revenue when it has some $7.5 million in the bank today.

He explained that with the eventual arrival of water from the CC Cragin pipeline, massive improvements would be necessary to infrastructure to move the additional supply. Water from the Cragin reservoir will effectively double the amount of water the town now has access to when it arrives in 2015.

“We need to correct the deficiencies of everything built before 1980,” he said.

He noted that there are water mains in the town that are as many as 60 years old, and that much of the infrastructure in Payson was built out of material that had a life-expectancy that has passed, or is very near to passing.

Walker noted that up to $1 million a year from the water fund is supposed to be spent on maintenance, but work force furloughs and restrictions on capital expenditures made necessary by a faltering economy have resulted in a curtailment of those efforts.

“We only did one major job last year.”

He noted that pipeline material has gone up drastically of late because there is a market for it now.

Putting his argument in a nutshell Walker said, “We need to continue to collect money to correct older infrastructure and get ready for Cragin water.”

Asked if the town was basing its rate structure with any consideration to the rates of other towns comparable to Payson, he answered emphatically in the negative.

“I want to make it clear that we don’t set rates based on what others charge. That would be crazy.”

He said that the 2006 water study that suggests the rate hike also requested the town get information on other communities rates so that they would be able to answer how Payson’s rates compared in the event the question were ever asked. But the information was never an integral part of the 2006 study according to Walker.

Several questions were asked that implied that the rate hike was tied to the construction of the Cragin pipeline. In the past it was assumed that 214 new building permits a year would provide enough money via impact fees to provide the budgeted funding for pipeline maintenance. However, in recent years, the town has seen nowhere near 214 new building permits per year.

“Life is full of risks,” said Walker, “It’s not a perfect world, and we’re not guaranteeing one.”

He stressed that the $10.5 million grant/loan the town received from the federal government to help build the Cragin pipeline could not be used for any other water project in Payson.

Walker said that he hopes the water treatment plant needed for Cragin water will be placed adjacent to Mesa del Caballo, a community just off of Houston Mesa Road that has seen its share of water woes in the recent past.

When questioned why the water department would need to raise rates when it had the resources to loan the town’s general fund $1 million, like it did earlier this year, Walker said that this year was a special case because of the dramatic drop in revenues the town was dealing with.

Payson Town Councilor Su Connell, who attended the meeting, further stressed the point that the option of borrowing from the water fund would never become commonplace for the town council.

“It was a very hard decision to make,” she said. “There are very rigid rules in place that we must pay it back in three or five years, and we’re hoping to pay it back even sooner.”

When asked again whether he thought a delay on the rate hike was possible, Walker answered, “I wouldn’t recommend it, but I don’t have a vote.”

“It all depends on how fast we want to benefit from Cragin water.”

PERSPECTIVE on Arizona's new immigration law

The long-deferred, urgent matter of immigration reform got a big kick in the pants yesterday.... Among other things, (Arizona's new immigration) law requires local police to demand papers from anyone officers have any reason to doubt is a citizen—anyone, in other words, who looks Mexican. If you’re brown-skinned, and don’t have your wallet, you’re going to jail.

William Finnegan
The New Yorker

Thursday, April 29, 2010

ACC will hear Mesa del water hauling case May 18

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) will hold a hearing on Brooke Utilities request for a water augmentation surcharge in Mesa del Caballo at 10 a.m. on May 18 at the Commission’s offices, 1200 West Washington Street, Room 100, Phoenix.

Public comments will be taken at the beginning of the hearing. Written public comments may also be submitted by mailing a letter referencing Docket Nos. W-03514A-10-0116 and W-03514A-10-0117 to Arizona Corporation Commission.

Interested parties who can't attend can listen from home. The Mesa del Water Committee is also working to arrange carpools.

The web address to listen is: http://www.azcc.gov/divisions/it/audio.asp. You can also call the "Listen Line" at (602) 542-0ACC (0222).

The water committee filed a motion to be an intervenor at the hearing.

The committee also wants to call residents' attention to an unsigned notice posted on mailboxes throughout the community regarding the fines proposed by Brooke for violating conservation stages. The committee says the notice is inaccurate and would like the opportunity to talk to not only whomever posted it, but to anyone else who has questions.

In a response from the water committee also posted on the mailboxes, the committee notes that fines are being increased for the first time in 12 years. The response also notes that Brooke will pass the cost of hauling water on to consumers without making a profit.

"Every home will have an allotment of water for basic needs based on the higher of the home’s use from either the preceding month’s usage or the same month last year," the response explains. "No fines would be imposed unless you exceed these or violate one of the stages’ restrictions."

Contact one of the water committee members with questions or concerns. Members are Ed Schwebel (468-3712), Randy and Minnie Norman (474-4454) and Irene Schwartzbauer (474-3660).

The document filed by Brooke Utilities reads, in part, as follows:

Summary
On March 31, 2010, Payson Water Company (“PWC” or “Company”) filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission (“Commission”) an application for the emergency implementation of a water augmentation surcharge for customers served by its Mesa del Caballo (“MDC”) water system due to potential water shortages during the summer season. Concurrently, the Company also filed an application for proposed changes to its Curtailment Tariff for its MDC System, which contains specific requirements as to when water augmentation will be necessary.

Proposed Water Augmentation Surcharge
The Company has proposed a water augmentation surcharge intended to collect costs for water augmentations made during the previous month. Each charge will be determined by taking the total monthly cost, and pro-rating the surcharge to each specific customer (currently 375) based on that customer’s total consumption for the month in which water augmentation is necessary. As currently proposed, those customers who use more water will pay a larger proportionate share of water augmentation costs than those customers who use less water.

Under the Company’s proposed revisions to its Curtailment Tariff, water augmentation activity is triggered when the MDC system reaches Stage 3, 4 or 5 conditions for water supply.

If you have any questions about these applications, you may contact the Company at Robert T. Hardcastle, c/o Brooke Utilities, P.O. Box 82218, Bakersfield, California 93380.

The Commission’s Utilities Division Staff has not yet made a recommendation regarding the Company’s surcharge request and proposed changes to its curtailment Tariff, and the Commission will determine the appropriate relief to be granted based on the evidence of record in this proceeding. The Commission is not bound by the proposals made by the Company, Staff, or any intervenors and, therefore, the relief granted may differ from the proposed surcharge described above.

How You Can View Or Obtain a Copy of the Financing Applications
Copies of the applications are available from the PWC by contacting its Call Center at (800) 270-6084 and providing your mailing address and/or email address, and on the Internet via the Commission’s website (www.azcc.gov) using the e-Docket function.

Arizona Corporation Commission Public Hearing Information
The Commission will hold a hearing on this matter beginning on May 18, 2010 at 10 a.m., or as soon thereafter as practicable, at the Commission’s offices, 1200 West Washington Street, Room 100, Phoenix, Arizona 85007. Public comments will be taken at the beginning of the hearing. Written public comments may also be submitted by mailing a letter referencing Docket Nos. W-03514A-10-0116 and W-03514A-10-0117 to Arizona Corporation Commission, Consumer Services Section, 1200 West Washington, Phoenix, Arizona 85007, or by e-mail. For a form to use and instructions on how to e-mail comments to the Commission, go to http://www.azcc.gov/divisions/utilities/forms/public_comment.pdf. If you require assistance, you may contact the Consumer Services Section at 1-800-222-7000.

About Intervention
The law provides for an open public hearing at which, under appropriate circumstances, interested parties may intervene. Any person or entity entitled by law to intervene and having a direct and substantial interest in the matter will be permitted to intervene. If you wish to intervene, you must file with the Commission no later than May 14, 2010.
1. The name, address and telephone number of the proposed intervenor and of any person upon whom service of documents is to be made if different than the intervenor;
2. A short statement of the proposed intervenor’s interest in the proceeding; and
3. A statement certifying that a copy of the Motion to Intervene has been mailed to PWC or its counsel and to all parties of record in the case.

LETTER: Mexican response to AZ law hypocritical

Dear Editor:
I am writing this as a citizen of the U.S. who, for several years, has lived much of the year in West Central Mexico.

My wife and I are retired, and are happy with our life here, but are very careful to adhere to the many rules and regulations that apply to our being legal residents of this country! We love the U.S., and all the advantages it gave us during all the years we grew up, raised our family, and prospered with the business that we created and worked in!

We now find it incredulous that our federal government refuses to enforce the immigration laws of the U.S., and, when a State like Arizona, in its own self defense tries to create some protection for it's citizenry, so many of the left wing, liberal people want to make villans of them, and the Mexican Government is saying that "this is an outrage and is racist!"

I would like to share with you readers what we are required to do, here in Mexico. To live down here, we must file as temporary immigrants, and to do so we must furnish: a formal application, filled out in Spanish, records that show that we have sufficient income, according to their standards, to live here, without additional income, a letter from a legal authority that shows that we have no criminal background, three sets of profile and front face photos, and pay an annual fee of approximately $100.

We also have to register our vehicle when we enter the country, and pay the registration fee, and furnish proof of Mexican Insurance coverage. If we own property down here, we have to do it through a Mexican Trust, and pay all annual Trust fees and Property taxes! We can be asked at any time to show proof of our proper documentation, and that of our vehicle, and failure to do so, will result in incarceration or impoundment and possible confiscation of our vehicle! We know of many circumstances when this has happened, so it is NO empty threat!

So, I guess we simply don't understand the double standard that the Mexican citizens that have illegally snuck into the U.S. have, and the outright hypocrisy of what the Mexican Government is touting!

The United States, and every state therein, has the right to control its borders, as Mexico does, and failure to do so jeopardizes their sovereignty!

Respectfully,
Larry and Eloise Kontz
Arizona residents!

(Editor's note: Larry and Eloise are former Payson residents and avid Gazette blog readers.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chick ballpoint pens need to be deflowered


For the most part, I consider myself a sensitive guy – or at least leaning to the sensitive side of guydom.

I realize we’re getting into some potential stereotypes here, but I don’t spit (unless, of course, a bug flies into my mouth). I drink wine, not beer. I like poetry. I have always had as many “girlfriends” (in the friend sense) as guy friends.

What’s more, I truly believe that women are not only equal, but often superior to men. While I religiously abide by my brother the psychologist’s philosophy that “women are crazy, men are stupid,” I think women are more sensitive and less impulsive than men as a general rule – and that serves them well in the arena of life.

They also tend to be more principled and to have infinitely higher standards than men. Which can be really frustrating to us guys who tend to follow the shortest line between two points and damn whoever or whatever gets in our way.

Having said that, I have an issue with a practice that seems to be gaining ground here in the Rim Country, and, I would surmise, throughout the free world. It is a practice perpetrated by women that puts men at a clear disadvantage. It is a practice, frankly, that discriminates against we members of the unfairer sex.

I refer, of course, to chick pens. These are seemingly normal ballpoint pens that have been adorned with some kind of fake flower.

When I go to my doctor’s office (who, incidentally, is a guy, but his staff is all female), I am handed a chick pen to fill out paperwork. When I go to my bank (which is overrun by females), I am handed a chick pen to sign my name to documents.

Now one could argue that a chick pen works just as well as a regular pen. I would argue right back that putting a plastic flower on the end of a pen messes up its aerodynamics.

Using the same logic I employ in arguing against sweetened iced tea, I propose that if god intended our ballpoint pens to have fake flowers affixed to them, he would have done so when he created said pens in the first place (on the sixth day, I believe).

In addition, a pen topped with fake flowers has to be a germ magnet. Think of all those extra surfaces where evil terrorist cooties can lurk.

But my primary objection to being asked to use a pen with a fake flower on it is that it offends my manhood. As sure as baseballs are guy things, flowers are girl things. I would never attach a baseball, fake or otherwise, to the end of a ballpoint pen and ask a lady to use it.

I suspect if more people who worked in doctors offices and banks were guys, we wouldn’t have this problem. Because guys, following the straightest line between two points would not take the time or trouble to screw around with the basic ballpoint pen. As Shakespeare said, “It is what it is.” Or did he say, “To be or not to be.”

But if man did decide to defeminize the ballpoint pen, how would women like to be handed a pen that had a wrench attached to it. Or a tire pressure gauge. Or maybe the rattler from a rattlesnake.

In an enlightened era when a black man can be elected president, when communism and democracy can peacefully coexist on the same planet, when Payson’s waterless urinals have rendered the great toilet seat controversy meaningless, the flowery ball point pen is an anachronism. It is a throwback to the Dark Ages, to the segregated South of the 1950s, to a time when women walked a respectful step behind their men.

I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I’m not going to take it anymore. I am going to picket and protest and sit anywhere on the bus I like. I invite you to join me.

We can form one of those tea parties. To be politically correct, let’s call it the Green Tea Party.

Ultimately, we will probably have to march on Washington D.C. and holler racial epithets at black congressmen and gay epithets at Rep. Barney Frank and call people who voted for the health care bill “baby killers.”

Of course, this is all Obama’s fault. I honestly don’t remember any flower pens before he became president. They’re not change I can believe in.

You’d think in the greatest nation on earth somebody would have thought to check his birth certificate. I can only hope the IRS will be as lax with my tax return.

Which, by the way, was signed with a pen that did not have flowers attached to it. Actually, my return was filed electronically, but I signed the paper authorizing my tax preparer (who is a woman) to file electronically with a deflowered pen.

She didn’t ask and I didn’t tell.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Americans becoming emotionally isolated


“Big dance comin’ up over at Bear Holler next month. You goin’?

“Depends. Who’s callin’?

“Wade and Junior Lipscomb, I heard.”

“Anybody good a-playin’?”

“Couple of real good fiddlers and a flat top picker out of Waynesville,
they say. Jess Stewart will be a-playin’ the bass.”

“Reckon I’ll see you there, then.”

This mythical conversation, or something like it, might have taken place many times in many variations back in more innocent days. The Great Smoky Mountains of Virginia, the Carolinas and north Georgia had their versions, as did Texas, Oklahoma and many other places in the west and mid-west. It was The Dance - as much anticipated as any event today.

Hard, physical daily labor was required from most folks, including women and children. Emotional stress was a constant companion. Recreation was a luxury. When an opportunity came along to temporarily ignore the struggles and simply enjoy oneself, especially in a large crowd doing the same, it was eagerly accepted by as many as could attend.

Note the first question asked in the mythical conversation, “Who’s callin’?“ In many cases, the “Caller” was as important as the musicians. They were responsible for directing the moves. A good caller could play the audience like an instrument itself, and create a unique classic with every dance. Like a great conductor, he or she could make all the difference in an experience.

In a square dance, for example, certain steps, or moves, were well known, like “allemande” “do si do” or “promenade.” Other dances, such as the Virginia Reel had their own. It was up to the caller to coordinate all the moves in a smooth transition, to keep the dance interesting and fun and to determine just how long it should last.

These dances were direct descendants of formal balls held throughout Europe in the days before the great migration west. In France and Germany, in particular, they were at the highest rank of social affairs. Only the elite could attend, and the music was often provided by the finest musicians. “Allemande,” is a French word simply meaning German. The step was first conceived in Germany as a part of a “Suite” of dance moves.

It is exquisitely appropriate, then, that in the new America, a land of free and equal men, the dance became a completely democratic affair. Everyone was invited. Fun was considered a free and equal commodity.

The “New World” was built upon a notion that men were created with equal rights and opportunities. That was the starting point, at least, and, although some might separate themselves through ability and hard work, everyone had a place at the dinner table or on the dance floor. True to form, a person might distinguish himself with superior talent and receive due acclaim, but anyone could have a go at it. My Uncle John wasn’t known as “Rubber-Legs” for nothing.

Large gatherings have great emotional influence over most people. For good or ill, a common bond is enhanced. It is no accident that large audiences are sought for political rallies or religious “Crusades.”

The theme of the big dance was (and remains) a fun and festive occasion for everyone. All other attitudes need to be checked at the door. “We can share a common, enjoyable period of time together, however briefly,” seems to work across all humanity in many circumstances. Truces have been briefly held in wars, so each side could enjoy a peaceful holiday, often shared together. The whole idea of diplomacy is based on finding common ground, however tenuous. The whole idea of America is that we each remain an individual personally, but work together for the common good in order to be strong as a group. It used to be that most folks could discern the difference and work to accomplish both.

In America, in particular, however, the emphasis on the individual has grown far beyond the importance of a strong group. If you are fortunate enough to travel, you will notice a cohesiveness in most countries. It isn’t mandated, and it isn’t absolute, but there is a much stronger feeling of “Country” in most foreign lands than in the U.S.

This is a recent trend in American society, I believe. In particular, our children grow up far more isolated, socially, than ever before. They no longer play neighborhood games with each other, and individual video games are pretty much universal. Even when they communicate, it is through a remote medium like Twitter, or E-Mail in which each party is physically separated from the other. That’s just it - we are more and more becoming isolated emotionally from one another from an increasing lack of physical contact. We are beginning to lose respect and understanding for each other.

Watch a fierce sporting event, football in particular. Each side spends a lot of time and energy attempting to prevail. At the end, they hug and congratulate the other side - not always, and not always in great humor, but often, at least, in respect and understanding of the effort given.

The Dance gave us an opportunity to be together on common ground for a time - to enjoy something larger than ourselves and believe in a place where it is perfectly acceptable and worthy of us to hold the ideal of “Oneness” in esteem.

Somewhere along the way, perhaps, we lost faith in The Caller.

PERSPECTIVE on original thinking

"A lot of people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."
William James
American Philosopher and Psychologist

LETTER: Creating new job for Vogel is wrong

OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR KENNY EVANS

Dear Mayor Evans,
I am writing to express my concern over the possibility of appointing Mike Vogel to a paid economic development position on the town staff.

Not only is it disingenuous to the voters after he was voted out of office, but to create a paid position for Mr. Vogel when Payson has severe budget problems also demonstrates a disdain for your constituents.  Aside from the above, this would be a public position that requires an open, public recruitment in compliance with equal opportunity employment laws. You may correct me if I am wrong, but if you create such a position, you will have to properly post it along with the requirements; then accept and review applications.  Anything less would be a violation of law.

Speaking of requirements, economic development is a specialty and there are professionals who do this for a living. What qualifications would Mr. Vogel bring to the table? The Payson Roundup reported that he was instrumental in recruiting an ammunition company to Payson. I submit that that is not an accomplishment.

An ammunition company poses an extreme hazard and has special challenges in finding a location in the first place. I doubt they would be allowed to locate in or around any large city or residential area. They were probably more than happy to find Payson willing to allow them to set up shop here. And given the hazard, one must ask whether Mr. Vogel did our Town any favors by recruiting them.

Frankly, recruiting a single company to Payson does not demonstrate any real economic development accomplishment. Historically, I cannot recall that anyone has ever made any real strides in this area. The county has never brought companies to Payson and created any significant number of well paying jobs and neither has the chamber of commerce or PREDC (Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation). So what’s the point in repeating the mistakes of the past, especially at taxpayer expense?

If you are determined to pursue economic development in Payson, you will need to lay the groundwork. First and foremost, Payson needs a robust, well trained and educated workforce which it does not have at present.

Then you must also have a decent infrastructure such as natural gas and state-of-the-art telecommunications, both of which are lacking. As of now, there is little reason for a company to come up here when it can locate in the Valley where all these things are readily available.

So, why are you intending to waste more taxpayer money (that doesn’t exist) except to do Mr. Vogel a favor?  Since you are a public servant like any other, I believe you are accountable and obligated to respond to this letter.

Sincerely,
Al Poskanzer
Payson

Class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart proceeds

Payson Wal-Mart by Jim Keyworth

In a 6-5 ruling Monday, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest private employer must stand trial, on charges it pays men more than women for the same work, and that women have to wait longer than men for promotions.

The class action lawsuit, filed by six women in 2001, could potentially cost Wal-Mart billions of dollars in back pay.  Between 500,000 and 1 million women are included.

Wal-Mart has 8,000 stores worldwide and employs 2.1 million.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Arizona Lottery growth dwarfs national average

PHOENIX — Despite the difficult economy, the Arizona Lottery’s growth in sales is exemplary by industry standards. According to the calendar 2009 report published by La Fleur’s Magazine, the premier trade magazine reporting on the worldwide lottery industry, the Arizona Lottery ranked first among all state lotteries in instant ticket sales—Scratchers™—and second in sales growth, combining instant and drawing game sales.

“At 12 percent, Arizona was one of only three states that experienced double digit sales increases in 2009,” said Jeff Hatch-Miller, executive director of the Arizona Lottery. “Being an industry leader makes us proud and is a result of the collective efforts of our entire organization.”

Spurred by close coordination with the Lottery’s 2,741 retailers and an ongoing effort to add value for Lottery players, the Arizona Lottery experienced a 22 percent sales increase over the past five years while sales growth for the other 43 state lotteries averaged 10 percent, as reported by GTECH Data Analytics, a leading gaming technology and services company. The same report noted that over the last five years the Arizona Lottery had the sixth best per capita growth when compared to the other 43 state lotteries.

Hatch-Miller said this strategic direction would continue, adding that the Lottery is committed to “making the Arizona Lottery the best lottery in the nation for people who enjoy playing.”

Among the objectives to continue sales growth, Hatch-Miller cited the following Lottery efforts:

· Growing the Lottery’s base of retailers to include more places where games are available to more players

· Identifying new ways to communicate with core players to provide information on winning numbers, special offers, new games and upcoming Lottery events

· Continuing to enhance the Lottery’s digital marketing efforts through an evolving Lottery website (www.arizonalottery.com) and mobile technologies—including the recent launch of the Lottery’s first-ever texting tool for the in-state jackpot game The Pick

· Introducing more product options and game variety, offering prizes that appeal to a broader spectrum of players

“We are certain that the next five years can be even more successful than the previous five,” Hatch-Miller said. “We are committed to serving the citizens of Arizona – and chief among our objectives obviously is to increase revenue for the state of Arizona.”

About the Arizona Lottery
The Arizona Lottery operates entirely from the revenue it generates through the sale of its products; it receives no General Fund dollars from the State. Proceeds from sales of Lottery tickets-nearly $3 million per week - fund a wide variety of public projects and programs including arts, wildlife, parks, transportation, education and historic preservation in cities and towns throughout all 15 counties in Arizona. Since July 1981, the Arizona Lottery has paid out over $3.9 billion in prizes to players, more than $2.3 billion in net profit to the state, and almost $500 million in commissions to retailers. Must be 21 to play.

Sage grouse habitat threatened by development

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of the Interior will expand efforts with state, local and tribal partners to map lands that are vital to the survival of the greater sage-grouse, a ground-dwelling bird that inhabits much of the West, while guiding and managing new conventional
and renewable energy projects to reduce impacts on the species, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced recently.

Salazar made the announcement in conjunction with a finding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that, based on accumulated scientific data and new peer-reviewed information and analysis, the greater sage-grouse warrants the protection of the Endangered Species Act but that listing the species at this time is precluded by the need to address higher priority species first. The greater sage-grouse will be placed on the candidate list for future action, meaning the species would not receive statutory protection under the ESA and states would continue to be responsible for managing the bird.

“The sage grouse’s decline reflects the extent to which open land in the West has been developed in the last century,” said Salazar. “This development has provided important benefits, but we must find common-sense ways of protecting, restoring, and reconnecting the Western lands that are most important to the species’ survival while responsibly developing much-needed energy resources. Voluntary conservation agreements, federal financial and technical assistance and other partnership incentives can play a key role in this effort.”

Adding the species to the candidate list will allow the Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies an opportunity to continue to work cooperatively with private landowners to conserve the candidate species.

This includes financial and technical assistance, and the ability to develop conservation agreements that provide regulatory assurances to landowners who take actions to benefit the species. One such agreement was signed last month in western Idaho, encompassing an area of over half a million acres.

“There is much we can accomplish for sage-grouse working with private landowners who care about the future of this iconic western species,” said Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland. “Voluntary conservation efforts on private lands, when combined with successful state and federal strategies, hold the key to the long-term survival of the greater sage-grouse.”

Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey, whose agency manages more greater sage-grouse habitat than any other government agency, said that the BLM will today issue guidance that will expand the use of new science and mapping technologies to improve land-use planning and develop additional measures to conserve sage-grouse habitat while ensuring that energy production, recreational access and other uses of federal lands continue as appropriate. The BLM guidance also addresses a related species, the Gunnison sage-grouse, which has a more limited range, and which is in the process of being evaluated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether it also warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act.

“Managing for sensitive and candidate species is nothing new to the BLM,” said BLM Director Bob Abbey. “Using sound science and effective on-the-ground coordination with our many partners, we will build on current accomplishments in managing for sustainable sage-grouse populations on our National System of Public Lands.”

The guidance, which supplements the BLM’s 2004 National Sage-Grouse Conservation Strategy, identifies management actions necessary at some sites to ensure the environmentally responsible exploration, authorization, leasing and development of energy resources in the priority habitat of greater sage-grouse.

Under the guidance, the BLM will continue to coordinate with State fish and wildlife agencies and their Sage and Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse Technical Committee in the development of a range-wide key habitat map. This mapping project, which is not intended to replace individual State fish and wildlife agency core habitat maps, will identify priority habitat for sage-grouse within each of the western states and reflect this across the known range of sage-grouse.

Greater sage-grouse are found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, eastern California, Nevada, Utah, western Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. They currently occupy approximately 56 percent of their historical range.

If trends since the mid-1960s persist, many local populations may disappear within the next 30 to 100 years, with remaining fragmented populations more vulnerable to extinction in the long-term. However, the sage-grouse population as a whole remains large enough and is distributed across such a large portion of the western United States that Fish and Wildlife Service biologists determined the needs of other species facing more immediate and severe threat of extinction must take priority for listing actions.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

LETTER: We must be our brother's keeper

Dear Jim Keyworth:
I am a Democrat because Democrats are the workers who support the Republican businesses of America.  I also lean toward Christian Liberalism, being respectful of tolerance and generosity.  I am my less fortunate brother's keeper.

More than anything, I want to remain reasonable when others around me are wild with flames of disorder.

Let us put away our loaded weapons and loud threats against each other.  Instead, let us bring care bags, not tea bags, of food for both those out-of-work Democrats and gone-out-of-business Republicans.

When the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, that is unfair distribution of wealth.  Especially when the struggling Democrat workers are forced to bail out the wealthy Republican money changers too big to fail.

Let us pray for peace among ourselves -- and long live peace-loving President Barack Obama.

Sarah Phipps

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Payson will maintain emphasis on conservation

By Matt Brabb
Mogollon Connection Editor

According to Payson’s 2010 Water Status Report, a wet winter and conservation efforts have combined to raise well levels nearly everywhere in Payson, in contrast to the declines they have seen in recent years.

The report states, “Most groundwater levels are actually higher than last year’s levels.”

Though Rim Country experienced an abnormally dry summer in 2009, El Nino conditions during the winter positively influenced precipitation. The town ended up receiving nearly 22 inches of rain between April 2009 and March 2010, which is essentially the long-term average.

The report also noted that on average, Payson residents consumed 81 gallons of water per day, which is below the town goal of 89 gallons per day. That figure is somewhat statistically skewed however. On any given day 15 to 20 percent of Payson homes are empty because many of them are second homes for Valley residents; owners do not live in them fulltime. The report also noted that because of the economy “fewer visitors and part-time residents came to Payson in 2009 than in previous years, along with an obvious increase in unoccupied homes (foreclosures and the like).”

The water department recommended the town stay on water conservation level one. That level includes a ban on washing paved areas such as sidewalks and driveways, and limiting outside water use to certain days of the week depending on the address. In addition, no new grass or expansion of existing grass areas from seed or sod are allowed, there is to be no watering of native plants or pine trees, and the ban on new outdoor swimming pools remains in place.

Last year the town consumed roughly 1,650 acre-feet, or almost 540 million gallons of water. That usage level has stayed fairly consistent for the past decade, and represents a usage rate of 62 percent of the “safe yield” of the town’s wells. Safe yield is a measure of how much water is normally replenished by Mother Nature to a community’s watershed in a given year.

Before Payson’s acquisition of the Tower Well in Star Valley, 1,650 acre feet would have been upwards of 90 percent of safe yield, but the 855 acre feet per year added to the town’s safe yield via the Tower Well in 2006 has put that figure at 65 percent or below ever since. The Tower Well represents nearly one third of Payson’s safe yield.

The CC Cragin Pipeline (formerly Blue Ridge) and related projects also figured prominently in the report. The report credited the acceleration of the Cragin project to money made available by means of the 2009 federal stimulus package. An award of $10.585 million was given to the town through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

According to the report “Of the $10.585 million funding, $4 million qualified as forgivable principal (essentially a grant). This $4 million portion of the funding qualified as ‘green-sustainable’ due to the project’s clean power components (existing and potential future hydro-power), water conservation, and water resources sustainability benefits.”

Fundraising begins for new center for Marcy's Kids

By Mitzi Brabb
Gazette/Connection Correspondent

The first annual dinner theater benefit, sponsored by local writing groups, was a night to remember for Payson Community Kids (PCK) who had hoped to raise enough money to help expand their existing facility.

Saturday’s event captivated an enthusiastic audience at Tiny’s Restaurant that nearly exceeded their banquet capacity of 90 patrons. The evening kicked off with a few inspirational words by Lori Mills, daughter of PCK founder Marcy Rogers, followed by dramatic readings from local writers from Payson Literary Artists, Writers of Whimsy, and Rough Writers.

Throughout the evening 10 talented artists shared romantic, insightful, and humorous excerpts from their writings. Performers included 10-year-old soloist, Catalina Coppelli, and singer/composer Katy Rovetto, whose vocal talents moved the audience with her own unique compositions.

Towards the end of the evening a select group of PCK members performed a song and dance routine, entitled “A-You’re Adorable.” The performance was clearly as enjoyable for the children as it was for the crowd.

A final vocal performance by Rovetto wrapped up the evening as the eclectic group of entertainers gathered on stage, including Master of Ceremonies Ken Crump.

During the course of the evening PCK President, Suzy Tubbs, presented remodeling plans for the new PCK center, which will be built on the existing grounds. Tubbs explained how important the need for expansion was. Six kids can only legally use the existing building at a time, and with an average of 30 kids visiting the center each week, space is extremely limited.

The new site would host 35 kids and six adults at any given time. This would mean that the children would no longer have to play outside during the cold winter months or hot summers.

Although Marcy Rogers started taking in disadvantaged children about 14 years ago, she started the charitable organization in 2006 so that kids with working parents had a place to go after school. Since her passing in December, Tubbs, along with board members and volunteers, have continued the program for Payson’s kids.

“The kids all have their own struggles,” says Tubbs. “We just want to provide a place for them to go.”

With tears in her eyes, Tubbs described how the PCK were doing all they could to raise money for their new building.

“We have kids out there raising money in quarters selling lemonade,” she proudly exclaimed.

Saturday night’s benefit event was a great step in the right direction for PCK. Between ticket sales, a 50/50 raffle, golf course raffle, and silent auction, PCK raised over $2,300.

Gov. candidates respond to AZ immigration bill

Does nothing to secure border, make us safer

Terry Goddard
Arizona Attorney General
Democratic candidate for Governor

"The bill the Governor just signed does nothing to secure our border or make us safer from the cartel violence behind most border crime," Goddard said. "We need stronger penalties against illegal entry, and I have made specific recommendations to the President for real federal border reform."

Should have included border enforcement

Dean Martin
Arizona Treasurer
Republican candidate for Governor

Treasurer Dean Martin said, "Despite her initial delay, I'm pleased Governor Brewer will sign SB1070. This legislation gives law enforcement the tools they need to keep people and property in Arizona safe.

Unfortunately Arizona became a national spectacle as Governor Brewer waited until this week to read a bill that was introduced and debated months ago. It was troubling that it took the urging of myself and many others before she felt compelled to act on an issue that has affected Arizona for decades."

Martin continued, "I am also grateful to those in law enforcement who diligently and equitably enforce our laws without prejudice and with great respect and care to equally protect our civil rights. It is that balance that must be supported now and it is that balance that we all must be committed to on behalf of all our wonderful citizens, our heritage, and our future."

"I strongly support the need for Arizona to step up to protect legal residents and their property rights. Which is why the Governor should have been actively involved with the bill in the legislature."

"As Governor I would have made sure SB1070 also included measures to improve border security including National Guard deployment, finishing the fence, and additional resources to local and county law enforcement."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Payson council votes 7-0 to leap tall buildings

By Matt Brabb
Mogollon Connection Editor

The Payson Town Council voted unanimously last week to amend the Unified Development Code to potentially allow for buildings as tall as 56 feet anywhere in town with the exception of parcels zoned R1, and areas within 75 feet of R1 properties.

According to Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, for all practical purposes, the measure allows for four story buildings.

In order for a developer to qualify to build a taller structure, he or she must meet a litany of requirements before getting approval from the planning and zoning commission through the conditional use permit (CUP) process.

Factors that will be considered before approval is given include impact to ridge lines/sky lines, preservations of native vegetation, scale of adjacent development, elimination of blight, privacy of adjacent property owners, community benefit, and the location and size of the parcel. All told, the planning and zoning commission will review 16 criteria before making a judgment.

Despite the fact that the council enacted a nominal cap of 56 feet, there is another way a developer can proceed in which there is no height limit at all. If they take the route of a Planned Area Development (PAD), there are no limits on the heights of buildings. According to Evans and Community Development Director Ray Erlandsen, this has always been the case.

To get PAD approval however, a supermajority of the town council has to vote in favor of the PAD plan and narrative. That means 6 of 7 Councilors need to vote yes.

“There are a very limited number of properties that are available for a PAD,” said Erlandsen.

Payson resident Lois McClusky spoke out against the change to allow for taller buildings during the public comment period of the meeting.

“When I first came to this small mountain town, it was as if it were an extension of the forest. The great trees dwarfed the buildings. To hide our giant trees would definitely diminish the town. Let’s remember that we are a town in the midst of a forest,” she said.

Councilor Michael Hughes explained that public sentiment would be considered regarding decisions on where taller buildings might be approved.

“There will be ample opportunity for public input if they go over 45 feet,” he said.

Evans said there were probably only a half dozen areas in town that would meet the criteria.

“I don’t know if the event center would qualify or not,” he said, when questioned about the rumor that the event center was one location targeted for development under the amended code. He declined to be specific about what sites he thought might potentially be approved by the planning and zoning commission for buildings as high as 56 feet.

One citizen questioned the town’s ability to battle fires in taller buildings. Fire Chief Martin deMasi conceded that such fires would present a challenge.

“They are more complex and difficult for fire-fighters to handle,” he said. “Whether you have ladders or not, it’s how many people you can bring to attack the fire.”

Councilor Ed Blair, who was elected in 2006 as a proponent of responsible growth, voted along with the rest of the council to allow for taller buildings.

“Help us get the message out, that it’s 56 feet only with the permission of planning and zoning,” he said.

“I think there are adequate safeguards, and if anything really big comes up, it will come to the council.”

Census return rate could exceed 2000 pace

Department of Commerce thanks citizens

"As forms continue to trickle in Americans are poised to match, and could overtake, the 72 percent who returned their short forms during the last census."
-Washington Post, April 23, 2010

Congratulations to the American public for its remarkable display of civic participation, a commitment to the common good that exceeded the expectations of many. Today’s achievement is even more impressive within the context of a decade of declining participation in surveys of all kinds, both public and private. Seventy-two percent is not the final mailback participation rate, and we will let you know when the final rate is announced. We wanted to share this good news with you today.

Thank you for your support of the 2010 Census and kudos to everyone across the country for rallying to achieve this rate. Unprecedented partnership efforts, and the engagement of local communities and elected officials played a central role in achieving this milestone. The high level of participation will save money and make the upcoming door-to-door count easier to complete.

Mindless, fearful perpetuate health care untruths


I have said before that I am no expert on the Health Care Bill. I’m neither strongly for or against it. I think it does have more potential for good than evil, and I believe we have the ability to wait a bit and give it a chance before destroying it. It may, in fact, be a good thing.

I can tell you, flat out, what I greatly oppose, however. That is mindless repetition of false or distorted claims about the bill. If the opposition wishes to debate the bill on its actual merits, that’s well and good. No one from that side appears willing to do so, however.

Whoever or whatever is continually feeding the endless memorized mantra is not totally to blame, either. It’s the mindless acceptance of false claims, the fierce embrace of misinformation, the surrender of logical thought and investigation by seemingly normal people which is puzzling, if not frightening. Hollywood might call it, “The Walk of the Zombies.”

A recent letter to the editor of the Mogollon Connection from a Mr. Preston Morris is a prime example. Now, most likely, Mr. Morris is a well liked good citizen who loves his country. I’m sure his neighbors would tell you that he is a good man. He has, however, obviously come under the spell of the repetitious but empty chants against the Health Care Bill.

Let’s examine his statements: He states that The Health Care Bill passed by Congress “forces” everyone to carry health insurance “approved” by The Secretary of Health and Human Services. There isn’t room here to dispute this in detail, but several points are distorted. First, this only really affects people who do not presently have health insurance, and subsidies are available for individuals who can‘t pay. New pools of coverage will be available, either through employers who receive incentives, or independent sources.

To some extent, this resembles the requirement for all motorists to purchase auto insurance. Overall, it saves billions of dollars by requiring individuals to pay or partly pay for the vast number of instances which are being paid for by state and federal governments today. Emergency treatment at hospitals, for example, must be paid by governments when a person does not have insurance. This is a huge and growing burden on government, which ultimately must depend upon tax dollars for the funds. As far as “approved” goes, this is plain common sense. All the major insurance companies would be the “approved” - no scams allowed which might simply have an appearance of legitimacy.

Mr. Morris’ arguments are contradictory and self serving. On the one hand he notes that Medicare is going broke. On the other, however, he criticizes an effort to cut its spending. As the boy said who received a stack of hay for his Christmas present, “There’s a pony in there, somewhere.”

The assertion that "a Presidential Executive Order is not law" is completely incorrect. The Constitution recognizes it as such.

As for the “true cost” of the Health Care Bill, no one knows for certain. For every alarmist who predicts financial doom, there is another study or report from the Budget Office that a reasonable potential exists for an overall reduction in the Deficit. Logic would appear to be on the side of those who predict that more individual participation in health care costs will result in less subsidy by the government. In that regard, the plan actually calls for less government control, not more. A lot depends upon our GNP growth and a resulting ability to move closer to a balanced budget. That’s a completely separate conversation.

Finally, Mr. Morris repeats an old claim which has been refuted many times. There is absolutely no provision in the Health Care Bill to tax a homeowner 3.8 per cent on the sale of his house. This blatant scare tactic is effective only with individuals who don’t take the trouble to check it out. Apparently Mr. Morris hasn’t been bothered to do so.

Perhaps he is referring to a tax on a profit above $500,000. The law presently allows you to keep, tax free, all your profit up to $500,000. That has not changed. All those making over $500,000 on a house sale these days, however, should beware.

The very fabric of what America stands for is ripped when we substitute emotional rage for intelligent common sense. In a blind “sour grapes” rush to overthrow an administration elected by a clear majority, a great effort is being made to “take back” some kind of perceived loss.

Anyone truly wishing to take back the eight years of the previous administration has a short term memory problem. The most vocal critics of our President today are the very ones who used the term “traitor” for people criticizing the previous President. Can you say hypocrite?

Mr. Morris sees the glass as half empty and draining fast. Many would say that new spectacles might lessen his anxiety. A self induced fear is felt just as strongly as a real one.

If we ever reach a point when we can debate real issues and not fabrications, we stand a chance of making real progress towards solving our real problems. That begins with each person at least being willing to fairly and reasonably investigate illogical sounding claims, not merely swallowing them whole and passing them along.

For better or worse, growth controls scrapped

EDITORIAL

By Matt Brabb
Mogollon Connection Editor
The era of restrained growth in Payson is over. Perhaps for good reason; but make no mistake, when this recession finally ends, changes have been made to local codes that will make development a far easier proposition than it was in years past.

And apparently the residents of Payson are fine with that. When the Payson Town Council met last Thursday, they approved the change to the Unified Development Code to allow for taller buildings, they scrapped the 250-units-per-year limit on new construction, and they approved the first new major development in town in years. A mere two Payson residents spoke out against the changes.

Not that there was any real chance that the changes would fail to be made. Two years ago the voters of Payson made a decisive choice when they elected pro-growth Mayor Kenny Evans, and Councilors Rick Croy and Michael Hughes. Along with incumbent Councilor John Wilson, they formed a four member pro-growth team that made the results of this past election for the most part irrelevant for the next two years.

To be fair, it’s not like Payson doesn’t need a kick-start. Some 150 storefronts are now vacant in town. People need the jobs that new industry will provide. The possibility of a four-year college coming to town would bring a much needed cultural infusion, as well as good, high-paying jobs to the community.

With the addition of CC Cragin water (formerly Blue Ridge), Payson will double its current water supply, making additional development feasible. Because of this, some claim that water is no longer a limiting factor for growth.

That is not altogether true. Though Payson will indeed have twice the water resources in six years that it has today (when the Cragin Pipeline is complete), it is expected that the population will eventually double as well.

The Evans administration has done exactly what it was elected to do. It is laying out the red carpet for prospective businesses to come to town. Along with Councilor Mike Vogel and Town Manager Debra Galbraith, Evans has formed a team to facilitate the relocation of potential employers to Payson. In fact, though Vogel was recently defeated in his re-election bid, a plan to keep him on the town payroll in the capacity of “ombudsman” to help recruit new business to town is in the works.

The council reversed the 250 units-per-year restriction on new construction despite the fact that in the coming year over 800 permits could have been approved. When the ordinance was passed during the previous administration of Bob Edwards, a clause was included to allow for permits to accumulate during years when growth was slow, as it has been in the last two years due to the recession. That did not satisfy the Evans administration.

Mayor Evans made it clear that he thought the limitations on growth made during the Edwards administration were flawed.

“Why have it if it’s not doing anything?” he asked, when questioned. “Making this change won’t make it any more difficult to control growth in the future.”

Still, Mayor Evans wasn’t elected to control growth, nor were the majority of the current council members. Town leadership will continue to entice developers and potential businesses. For better or worse, the foundation has been laid, change is coming.

RANT & RAVE: Posted April 23, 2010

Editor’s note: Each week we print a selection of anonymous rants and raves submitted by our readers. Keep them under 250 words, free of profanity and personal attacks, and have at it. You need not sign your submission, which you may e-mail to peoplesgazette@gmail.com or mail to Gazette Editor, 7736 N. Toya Vista Road, Payson, AZ 85541. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Gazette staff.

And don’t forget to visit BY THE PEOPLE. Just click on the right. You can leave your comments on any subject there as well.

Here’s one vote for Payson Unified School District superintendent (Casey O’Brien). How can people be upset with him for dealing with a budget that is beyond the district’s control. As a retired teacher, I can tell you that the place to make cuts is not the classroom teachers, but the principals and, especially, the assistant principals. They’re the ones who don’t have any students to teach, and teaching is what education is all about. I wonder if Tim Fruth would go back into the classroom for his final year before retirement if given the opportunity.

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Oh my goodness, what has your Chamber of Commerce wrought now. I am referring, of course, to the giant rodeo fiasco. The chamber is so busy playing favorites and passing out favors that it has now managed to screw up Payson’s most hallowed institution, August Doin’s. Both the alliance and the committee should be suing the chamber, not each other. When will they see the light? When will we see the light? Fellow business people, the chamber needs a massive overhaul and a serious infusion of ethics.

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So now Roundup Reporter Pete Aleshire is calling the acquisition of the Tower Well a “trade.” How that boy can rewrite history amazes me. It was an out-and-out heist in the greatest tradition of the Wild West. Next thing you know he will be calling it a donation. Then a gift. And finally a blessing.

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So the Payson Town Council vote to rescind the growth limits imposed by the Edwards council was 7-0. Say it ain’t so, Councilor Ed Blair. Don’t abandon your principles.

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Let me get this straight. A month ago, the voters boot Mike Vogel off the Payson Town Council. But Kenny the Who doesn’t like what the voters did, so he wants to give him a paying job at a time when town services are being cut to the bone. Ladies and gentlemen, I maintain that we have all just been slapped in the face by the mayor. Ombudsman my butt. This is good old fashioned cronyism at its finest.

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I find it interesting that the town is thinking of hiring Mike Vogel to perform a task he used to do as a councilor. Does the town have sufficient funds to add a new position? If there were to be a new position added, should it not be open for all to apply? When Mike was doing the job as a councilor, exactly how many new businesses did he help bring to town? From what I have heard it is only one. Does not seem like a very good track record for four years of effort. Wonder how many would have come if he had not been the main contact ... how many did he scare off?

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Should we be surprised that the town has Pete Aleshire trying to sell the water rate hike to the unsuspecting citizens of Payson? Whatever happened to objective reporting? I see little attempt to go behind what officials are saying to verify or clarify or, God forbid, question and challenge. This town needs a good audit, from top to bottom. And the water department needs it most of all.

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So Star Valley has a new town hall under the most suspect of circumstances. I’m no expert in meeting law, but that decision and the way it was done must have come pretty danged close to violating something.

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How about that cowboy circus on the Beeline Highway on Thursday (the Payson Tea Party rally on April 15)? Where were these clowns (who proclaim that they want to protect the Constitution) when George W. Bush Started the Office of Faith Based Initiatives? Hey you Bozos, we give tax dollars to churches now! Oh yea, that’s alright aye? Check the First Amendment. America: Land of the dumb.

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I agree with Matt Brabb, editor of the Mogollon Connection. The second consecutive Civil War reenactment was more like a circus than an event that captures the breadth and scope of that tragic war. Can’t the Town of Payson come up with something better to bring tourists up from the Valley? Two straight years is enough, already.

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I have to admit, I was one of Payson Regional Medical Center’s biggest detractors based on some horror stories I had heard. But a recent visit to the emergency room changed my tune. The treatment and care I received was absolutely outstanding. Of course the cost was outrageous too, but that’s a function of a broken health care system. Now if PRMC works with me on a payment plan I can afford, I will endorse them unconditionally. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Original OK Corral inquest documents discovered

State Librarian GladysAnn Wells speaks at a news conference at which Cochise County officials transferred to the state the original documents of the coroner’s inquest into the 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral. Denis Lundin, clerk of the Cochise County Superior Court, and Secretary of State Ken Bennett look on. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Griselda Nevarez)


At a ceremony Wedneday, April 21, 2010, Cochise County officials transferred to the state the original documents of the coroner’s inquest into the 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Griselda Nevarez)

By GRISELDA NEVAREZ
Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX (Wednesday, April 21) - Michelle Garcia and Bonnie Cook were reorganizing files in an old jail storage space at Bisbee’s courthouse when they found a box marked “Juvenile 1988.”

Whoever wrote that meant to say 1888.

The women, both deputy clerks for Cochise County Superior Court, found an envelope inside saying “Coroner’s Inquest.” Taking their find to a supervisor, they realized they had found lost documents with interviews from people who witnessed the gunfight at the OK Corral.

“We opened it up and we could tell it was original because it was hand-written,” Garcia said.

At a ceremony held Wednesday outside the State Capitol, the county transferred the documents to the Arizona State Archives, where officials will restore and preserve them.

Denise Lundin, the Cochise County Superior Court clerk, presented the documents to Secretary of State Ken Bennett.  Bennett said the documents are an important window into Arizona’s history.

“To have the actual documents taken from the actual trial of the people who were involved and verbatim that they gave in the courtroom is pretty neat; it makes us appreciate what happened to make Arizona come together as a state,” he said.

The 30-second shootout Oct. 26, 1881, in Tombstone had Wyatt Earp leading a band against against the Clanton and McLaury gang, killing Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Tom McLaury. Earp and his allies were charged with murder, but a judge ruled the killings justified.

Documents from the inquest were in a manila envelope that caused the papers to yellow from acids. Some parts of the documents are held together by tape, which will deteriorate the ink if it isn’t removed, said Melanie Sturgeon, the history and archives division director for the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.

“If they would’ve sat that way for another 50 or so years, it would’ve been really hard to restore them, Sturgeon said.

The documents will soon be digitized and posted on the Arizona Memory Project’s website, which provides people access to state historic documents, Sturgeon said.

Historians will be taking a look at the documents to see if there is additional information that has been lost in history about the OK Coral gunfight, said Lundin, the court clerk.

“My guess is that they will reveal additional information about what people actually saw,” she said.

Lundin said her staff will continue to search for other documents at the old courthouse.

“I have no doubt that there are other valuable and fragile historical records waiting to be found,” she said.

LETTER: Vogel should volunteer like others do

In a recent article, (Payson) Mayor (Kenny) Evans indicated it may be a good idea to employ soon to be ex-councilman (Mike) Vogel on a part-time basis so he can continue recruiting new businesses for the town.

No one can disagree with the goal of bringing business and new jobs to Payson especially in these hard times. If Vogel wants to continue his work after he leaves the council more power to him. He might even ask a few others to help.

However, creating a new PAID position in light of the cutbacks and furloughs every town employee has taken seems to be the wrong approach at this time. It also seems like a slap in the face to the hundred plus citizens who have volunteered and received no compensation for serving on the many committees, boards and commissions for the betterment of the town.

If Vogel wants to continue his efforts for the good of the town, let him volunteer like so many others have done in and out of town government.

Thomas Loeffler
Payson

South's priceless sweet tea secrets revealed

It’s been called the “House wine of The South.” It’s one of the few pure unchanged links to the past, but as imbedded in today’s culture as ever.

Look in almost any “ice box” throughout the South and you will almost always find a big pitcher of cold sweet tea. Eat in any restaurant which does not have a wine list, and you will be offered “Sweet Tea or Un.” Often, you will not get a choice.

Sweet Tea is not “sweetened” tea, nor is it tea with sugar added at the table. It is created in the kitchen through a process akin to alchemy which results in a liquid unlike any other. It is a compound all its own, made from scratch, and the second thing a young girl in the South learns to make. The first, naturally, is biscuits.

There are variations, of course, but generally, sweet tea is made by boiling about two quarts of water to the point of creating steam - adding just the right amount of black tea leaves (stronger tasting than green), or a pre-known amount of Lipton tea bags, removing the boiling mixture from heat and allowing it to steep for five or six minutes. (Some say longer.)

The tea is then strained and poured into a pitcher in which a cup of granulated sugar or prepared sugar water known as “simple syrup” has been added. The tea must still be quite hot for the proper absorption of sugar to take place. Then, just as copper and tin become bronze, hot tea and sugar becomes “Sweet Tea.“ Continued steeping may be adjusted to personal taste.

Some family formulas are as closely guarded as Coca Cola, and only passed down by grandmothers. Written recipes do not exist, except in some mundane obligatory form in cook books.

The only controversy depends upon whether one belongs to the “pre-steeping” or the “post-steeping” schools. The precise point at which to combine the hot tea and sugar creates endless conversation, and has actually been the subject of scientific study. A slight nod was given to the “pre” school, but I remain a “post” advocate, as was my mother.

Freshly made sweet tea which is still slightly warm is the best. It is like the first press of juice through a wine press.

The tea is best when poured into a tall glass filled with crushed ice or ice cubes. It must, therefore, be of sufficient strength to not become overly diluted and cool enough to not melt all the ice. This takes exquisite balance and expertise in the making.

Secondary sweet tea - poured from the refrigerator later, is better than most cold drinks, but, unlike wine, it does not improve with age. Usually it’s gone by the next day, anyway.

Tea is naturally astringent and tannic, and the balance of just the right amount of sweetness is a perfect foil. The addition of fresh picked mint and lemon are like adding whipped cream and nuts to an ice-cream sundae. That’s about as good as it gets.

Sweet tea was a staple in the South even before ice became available. Some say it gave extra energy to farmers or field hands. Granulated sugar was unavailable or unknown but sugar cane or beet sugar were used extensively.

When The Tennessee Valley Authority created electricity for the rural South in the 1930s, ice, “ice boxes,” and soon, refrigerators became widely available. It is probably true that the availability of ice was more popular than electric lights for many folks. This resulted in the birth of “iced” tea. Iced sweet tea, of course.

If one has never experienced the real thing, perhaps consuming a poor imitation, it is understandable that one may not have a properly high opinion of true sweet tea. Grocery store imitations of Coca Cola come to mind - cheap wine or Robusta coffee.

Like good wine, sweet tea really comes into its own with a good food match. Almost all foods in the South are a good food match. Barbecued pork is at the apex of matches. Nothing quenches the thirst with more complete satisfaction when eating spicy foods than a large glass of iced sweet tea.

Oh, it should be noted that iced sweet tea is almost always served in out-sized containers, often real glass. This cuts down on the need to frequently pass the pitcher. This won’t be necessary in a restaurant, though. A glass nearing the half full mark sends out an automatic distress signal to the nearest waitress, who immediately pours a refill.

A plate of chopped barbecued pork, slowly smoked over hickory charcoal, crisp tangy cole slaw, roasted potatoes and a big ole “cathead” biscuit buttered and dripping with clover honey has been know to make grown men cry or propose marriage.

Anyone can make apple pie.

Game and Fish says fed's Macho B report flawed

PHOENIX, April 20 - The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) today made public its response to a January 2010 federal report on the events surrounding the capture and recapture of the jaguar Macho B. The Department’s response criticizes nearly every finding in the report and calls for an independent review of the report by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency.

The response, posted in its entirety on the AZGFD’s website, counters the findings and conclusions made in a U.S. Department of Interior, Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report titled Investigative Report, Macho B.

AZGFD's response concludes that the OIG report is neither accurate, objective nor unbiased. The response states that the OIG likely exceeded its statutory authority by focusing its error-laden investigation AZGFD, and not on the performance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and its programs and operations. The results of the improper investigation have unnecessarily and unfairly damaged the professional reputation of AZGFD.

The 10-page response from the department:

Concludes that the OIG chose to publish its own unsubstantiated “findings” before the conclusion of the investigation initiated by the FWS, any decision to file charges, or the adjudication of guilt or innocence of any party.

States that the totality of the legal and factual errors and omissions compromises nearly every “finding” of the OIG’s report.

Denies as sensational and unsubstantiated the OIG’s charge that the initial capture of Macho B by AZGFD employees was intentional.

Makes it clear that Emil McCain, a biologist with the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, was acting on his own behalf and was not a contractor, subcontractor, nor a formal volunteer for AZGFD during bear and lion research study field activities in February 2009.

Disputes that FWS employees were neither involved with the capture or recapture of Macho B, nor the planning of the mountain lion and black bear study that resulted in the capture of the jaguar.

Points out that FWS, not AZGFD is responsible for initiating consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for federally-funded activities.

Maintains that AZGFD's ESA Section 6 Cooperative Agreement with the FWS and its ESA Section 10(a)(1)(A) permit authorized incidental capture of a jaguar.

Denies the report’s implication that AZGFD sought a “cosmetic” necropsy of Macho B for purposes of a cover-up and points out that the necropsy performed permitted a thorough post-mortem analysis.
As a result, AZGFD has requested a review of the OIG report by the Integrity Committee of the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency. The purpose of the Integrity Committee is to review and refer for investigation allegations of wrongdoing by the OIG.

Read the entire response at AZGFD's website at www.azgfd.gov/w_c/jaguar/responseOIGReport.shtml.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Edwards' Camelot ended like all Camelots end

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Bob Edwards addresses his followers just after the election results were announced.  Edwards unseated Barbara Brewer and sent the establishment scrambling.

(Editor’s note: The following was written on the occasion of Bob Edwards’ 70 birthday, an event that was celebrated by his legions of friends and supporters last Saturday at Rumsey Park.)

I’ve been supplied with some biographical information about Bob Edwards.

Where he was born. Where he went to school. His first job. His favorite vacation. His first dog’s name – Tippy. Tippy?!?!

I didn’t see column fodder in any of that. Maybe a dog named Bruno. Or Fang. Or Whiskey. But Tippy?

I also know that Bob and I both spent a fair amount of time in Flint, Mich. That he had a distinguished political career as a legislator in the home state we shared.

Although my right wing nephew campaigned door-to-door for Bob, I didn’t know him in Michigan. No column fodder there.

How strange that fate should bring us together many years later in Payson, Ariz. It’s where most of you became acquainted with Bob as well.

And it’s here, on the occasion of Bob’s 70th birthday, that we appropriately pause and reflect on how our lives would have gone if Bob had never come into them?

Would I still be writing for the Roundup? You will remember it was Bob’s run for mayor that did me in.

Or rather it was then police chief Gordie Gartner’s letter accusing Bob of not liking Mormons. But that’s a story we all know too well.

How Bob won the election despite a host of mudslinging beyond and below Gartner’s letter. Bob’s victory was one of those brief moments that make you believe in humankind.

For two years, Bob brought Camelot to Payson. A glorious time when the people truly determined the rules they and their elected officials would live by. It never rained when Bob was mayor either, but that had nothing to do with Bob or Camelot.

Bob Edwards turned back the clock to an earlier time in our country when people were truly involved in the democratic process. His town council meetings were standing room only. Friends and foes stood toe to toe and slugged it out. The meetings were loud, unruly and delicious.

It was an exciting time to be working as a journalist in Payson, and I had my own newspaper. Nobody could fire me for anything.

It was true what our mothers and Roy Rogers and Superman taught us – that the good guys could win in this world.

Of course, we all know the end of the story too. How, after wailing and pouting and gnashing their teeth and licking their wounds, the bad guys took out their checkbooks and regrouped. How they took the town back and shut down the discourse. How they removed, one by one, the few people left from the Edwards era.

How a different kind of reporter now covers the festivities at town hall – one who uses way too many words in support of the establishment.  How the status quo is never questioned or challenged.

How the town council meetings have become like white bread – lifeless, without texture, devoid of nutrition. Only the occasional act of meanness to an Edwards holdover breaks the monotony of 7-0 and 6-1 votes.

But, you will recall, that’s the way Camelots generally work. They last a while. They are so glorious that they burn white hot. And, inevitably, they burn out from their own energy.

So here we are. Standing in the park reminiscing.

But Linda May sent me an e-mail that bears repeating.

“At a time when the world seems so nasty and there is so much animosity,” she wrote, “how nice for small town friends to stop and pause and reflect on what is good about life, friendship, and making a difference in this world.”

Does that mean our day has come and gone? I don’t believe it. Not for a second.

Because we did what was right. We fought the good fight. And we will live to fight another day.

At least some of us will. Bob, after all, is 70.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Photos, transcripts from Macho B case released

Arizona Game and Fish photos

(Editor's note: Judging from reader response, there is great interest in the unfolding story of the capture, release, recapture and death of the jaguar Macho B. If you are one of those following the case, this press release from Arizona Game and Fish will direct you to a wealth of additional information, including these photos and over 300 more:)

Transcripts of Arizona Game and Fish employees interviewed during the Department’s internal Macho B investigation are available for public review

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will post on its public website redacted transcripts of interviews that were conducted with a number of department employees as part of the department’s ongoing internal administrative investigation into the events surrounding the 2009 capture, recapture and euthanization of the jaguar known as Macho B.

To read the transcripts, go to the department’s web site at www.azgfd.gov/w_c/jaguar

The department received a public records request for the transcripts in the aftermath of its March 19, 2010 decision to dismiss an employee for actions the employee made in the weeks following the initial capture of the jaguar. The department has previously withheld from public release the interview transcripts due to the likelihood that release would either harm the Department’s ongoing investigation or the concurrent federal investigation being conducted by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

It is the department’s understanding that the federal investigators have now finished their investigation and turned their materials over to the U.S. Attorney’s office. The department’s investigation is ongoing and it may require additional or follow-up interviews of department employees once the results of the federal investigation are made public. The redacted portions provide details that if known could influence or taint any employee’s future testimony. In the interest of ensuring a thorough and uncompromised investigation, the department cannot at this time release the redacted portions of the transcripts.

Because the redaction process takes some time, the department will post transcripts as the redacted copies become available. The first transcripts that are being posted are those of the interviews with Thorry Smith. Transcripts will subsequently be posted as they become available of the interviews with the following employees: Ron Thompson, Terry Johnson, Michelle Crabb, Bill Van Pelt, Dean Treadwell, David Grandmaison, Kirby Bristow, Eric Gardner, Tom Jones, Chantal O’Brien, Tim Snow and William Carroll. The department estimates it will take about three to four weeks for all of the transcripts to be redacted and posted.

Unredacted copies of the transcripts will be posted after the department has completed its internal investigation.

The department has also posted to its public website all department photographs made during the initial capture and recapture of Macho B. All photos are being published in their original and unedited form. View the more than 300 photos at the azgfd website cited above.

PERSPECTIVE on the tea party movment

"...many Americans are passionate about the social programs others want to ax.  That makes for a tough political reality for anyone wanting to change the way Washington works."

JJ Hensley
The Arizona Republic

(go to azcentral.com to read Hensley's April 18 front page story headlined "Loosely tied, 'tea partyers' have same aim")

Friday, April 16, 2010

Payson Tea Party up in arms on April 15

Photos by Jim Keyworth
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, here's 3,000 of them...  The group, some 30 strong, gathered on the Beeline in front of the Gila County courthouse.  Reaction from passing motorists was mixed.

Chamber is 'elephant' in rodeo brouhaha

By Carolyn Wall
Connection Correspondent

What’s in a name?

Is the August Doin’s the Annual World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo or the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo?

At this point, neither one is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), and time is running out.

The PRCA requires a yearly application and does the work of signing up the cowboys for the event.

Lawyers for the Payson Rodeo Committee and the Payson Rodeo Preservation Alliance are sorting it all out before Judge Peter J. Cahill in Gila County Superior Court in Payson.

The PRCA denied the two applications submitted by the Committee and the Alliance until one or the other is recognized by the court as the rightful owner of the event that celebrated its 125th anniversary last year.

According to the official web site for the Arizona Department of State, Office of the Secretary of State Ken Bennett, the Annual World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo was first registered with the state on Aug. 1, 1954, with the owner listed as the Payson Rodeo Committee, Inc.

The Committee last registered the name Sept. 8, 2006. That registration expires Jan. 8, 2012 and was last assigned Dec. 1, 2009.

The World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo, under the ownership of the Payson Rodeo Preservation Alliance, has its beginning date listed on the web site as March 27, 2008.

The Alliance put on the August rodeo last year and had a one-year contract with the Rim Country Chamber of Commerce to do so. The Committee, which had been putting on the rodeo for 25 years, took no part in the event itself after negotiations broke down with both the chamber and the Alliance.

Although the Alliance only had a one-year contract, it also had first right of refusal to purchase the name from the chamber.

Chamber Manager John Stanton said, “We were told by the Alliance that they didn’t feel the name the chamber owned was worth anything.”

Stanton said the name, “Annual World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo,” was sold to the Committee in November “for an undisclosed amount.”

The Alliance registered the name, “World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo,” with the state on Jan. 13, 2010 and that registration is scheduled to expire on January 13, 2015.

Stanton said the Chamber is not involved at all in the lawsuit between the Committee and the Alliance.

But, during a telephone conference call Wednesday, April 7, in Cahill’s Payson courtroom, Mark Lassiter, one of the lawyers for the Committee, told the judge, “If everyone is being honest, we’d admit that the chamber is the elephant in the living room. No matter how you cut it, I think we’d both like to have the chamber involved.”

When told about Lassiter’s comment, Stanton replied, “I’ve been referred to as large before. There’s nothing I can say about it. We’re not involved in anything with the lawsuit – not at this point. Everybody’s got the best interest of the rodeo at heart. It’s just a shame that everybody can’t work together.”

At the hearing last week, Cahill asked the lawyers to work together and called the case “a real important issue.”

“A good compromise would benefit the community,” he said. “I encourage you to discuss how this matter could be solved - with good-minded, civic-minded people, perhaps a group of independent, non-involved citizens. I know I can rely on you to do your professional duty.”

Neal Bookstan, attorney for the Alliance said, “We definitely think we can agree to expedite a disclosure. We have somewhat of a short time fuse.”

Greg Miles, attorney for the Committee, said, “The biggest challenge we have is, we have an August rodeo. The end of May, we have a deadline.”

Cahill said he had a busy schedule in April, but would work to come up with a schedule for a non-jury trial.

“I’m not too busy to get this important matter to our community,” he said.

Town manager tells SV council to watch spending

By Matt Brabb
Connection Editor

Though revenue coming into the Town of Star Valley coffers has declined, to this point they have managed to pay the bills, pave the roads, and build a sizable cash reserve in spite of an extremely challenging economic climate.

Town Manager Timothy Grier, who also serves as the town attorney, gave a synopsis of where the town stands financially on Tuesday, during the regular council meeting.

While noting that the town, after purchasing a new town hall, still has some $2.5 million in reserve, he stressed the fact that that money, once spent, could be replaced only very slowly.

“You have to make the decision on what priorities to make,” he told the council.

“If you make a mistake, we don’t have a fix,” he added.

Grier then went over the town’s incoming revenue for the current fiscal year. That figure is estimated to be just over $1.5 million, but operating expenditures for the town come to nearly $1 million, leaving the town with a net gain of roughly $500,000.

The town’s projected revenue for fiscal year 2010/2011 is a little over $200,000, a significant drop. The decline explains in part the fears Grier has about being able to replace the $2.5 million held in reserve if it were spent.

The decrease in revenue is expected because of the drops in state shared revenue, town sales tax, and a reduction in photo enforcement income.

Currently photo enforcement is the number one source of revenue for the town, resulting in a net gain of $431,000. In gross figures, the town takes in some $1.3 million a year from its use. Though the town is calculating that it will actually see a decrease in photo enforcement revenue, Mayor Bill Rappaport recently announced that two additional cameras would be erected along Arizona Highway 260 in downtown Star Valley.

Other sources of revenue for the town are the state sales tax, grants, license/permits, and HURF funds, which are dedicated to road improvements.

Grier noted that the town had done everything it can to cut spending.

“There is no meat left to cut off the bone,” he said, explaining that members of town staff are already serving several roles usually performed by many workers. An example is Town Clerk Stephanie Jones. Her duties include those of office manager, accounts payable, town manager assistant, town attorney legal assistant, and photo enforcement liaison. She also helps to manage the town’s role in the census and elections.

“We need to be able to keep the staff we have,” Grier stressed.

He then ticked off the services the town already provides, consisting of street paving, sewer and flood studies, law enforcement, animal control, zoning compliance, review of building permits, street maintenance and emergency street response, star thistle control, and publishing the town newsletter.

“We are not going to be able to provide more services or the same services with less revenues,” he said.

For that reason he cautioned the council to be careful when undertaking new, expensive projects. These could include water and sewer, flood containment, streets and roads, or a park system.

“Put price tags on your decisions,” he advised.

“Money that has taken four and a half years to accumulate will only trickle back in,” he added, speaking of the town’s reserves. “Bonds are not going to be an option for us.”

The next step for the council will be a work session in which council members discuss the financial situation that Grier described to them. They will then be able to prioritize projects, and plan for future spending.

“That was a hell of a presentation,” Mayor Rappaport told Grier at its conclusion.

“I’m just glad I don’t have a vote,” joked Grier.